HENNIKER, N.H. – Castleton University stayed with New England College through the first period, but the Pilgrims' offensive attack was too much for the Spartans to handle, as NEC defeated Castleton, 12-7, Saturday afternoon in the championship game of the 2018 North Atlantic Conference Men's Lacrosse Tournament at Don Melander Field.
Jason Sedell led Castleton with three goals and one assist, while Kyle Lutinski finished with two goals and two assists. Josh Gosselin won 15-of-23 face-offs, and Brandon Myron was credited with five saves in net for the Spartans. Sedell, Gosselin, and Ryan Crowningshield were named to the All-Tournament Team.
New England College (15-4) jumped on the board just 56 seconds into the contest as Matt Richard set up Jacob Blanchette for his first goal of the day. Eight minutes later, Blanchette was the one with the assist, passing the ball to Tom Zervos who found the back of the net to increase the Pilgrim lead to 2-0.
Castleton broke through with 3:20 left in the first period as Sedell scored an unassisted goal. New England College reestablished a two-goal advantage with 1:26 to go in the first period on an unassisted goal by Patrick Stone.
The Spartans once again closed to within one goal just over a minute into the second period as Sedell earned his second tally of the game off an assist by Colin Clark. The Pilgrims took control with four unanswered goals, all set up by Richard, with Charles Hacking scoring twice and Blanchette and Zervos each earning their second goals of the game.
Sedell completed his hat trick with a goal on the extra-man opportunity with 1:27 remaining in the second period, closing the Spartan deficit to 7-3 at halftime. However, the Pilgrims started the third period with three goals in the span of three minutes, the first two by Patrick Storie before Richard earned an unassisted goal of his own.
Tyler Crowningshield scored an unassisted goal with 8:41 left in the third period, but Blanchette answered one-and-a-half minutes later with his third goal of the day, giving the Pilgrims an 11-4 advantage. Lutinski scored twice and assisted on a goal by Kevin McCarthy to bring the Spartans within four at 11-7 with 6:07 remaining in regulation, but NEC closed out the scoring on Hacking's third goal of the game.
Richard, the national leader in assists coming into the game, finished with eight assists, while Zach Cotoni led the Pilgrims with seven ground balls. Defensively, Maxime Danis and Connor Fries caused three turnovers apiece, and William Platt made eight saves in net for New England College.
Castleton concludes the 2018 season with a 10-8 record, its 13th straight season with double digit victories and the 14th straight winning year for the Spartans. The Spartan men's lacrosse team will compete in the Little East Conference starting in the 2019 campaign.